Today there isn’t much that leaves us in awe. We are educated in general scientific principles. Through modern media we are exposed to the wonders of space; of quantum physics and other incredible discoveries.

As a species we no longer ascribe great geological events to the anger of the gods. It is easy therefore to think that physical travel for the purpose of discovery and learning is a quaint but expensive relic that is best left to the rich and the retired.

However, there is one element of travel that modern technology cannot effectively communicate. In fact, I think that our current media technology tends to understate it. That element is the “awe” factor.

Today my family and I visited Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in southern Washington State. All that I can say after this experience is: “Wow!”
If you are as old as I am then you remember that day in 1980 when the volcanic forces under Mount St. Helens unleashed their fury on this region of North America. It was a day and a scene that I will never forget.

However, as much impact as that devastating eruption had on me nearly thirty years ago, I had never actually visited the “scene of the crime.” It is only now that I understand how incredibly powerful this event was; unleashing the force of over 7,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs within a seven hour period.

To see this mountain today; capped in snow; towering massively above all of the otherwise great mountains that surround it; is to be affected on a very personal level. Only after witnessing this massive seat of power and seeing the devastating effects of the release of that power; can I understand this event on a human level.

That’s just it. More than anything else this National Monument is a memorial to devastation that far exceeds the ability of the human mind to appreciate. It is, ultimately, a memorial to human vulnerability.

When someone views his world from afar it’s easy to see the world like a scientist; through the unadulterated lens of reason. It is easy to ignore the emotional effect on the human psyche that the scale of certain events can have.

I was speaking to my eldest son after our tour and we noted how this eruption was just a mediocre volcanic event in terms of planet-wide geological history. There have been many such eruptions in the past and there will likely be many more in the future.

It would be an easy matter to forget this event (scientifically speaking) except for the excellent scientific data that was gathered and the new understanding that grew out of the thorough observations that were made back then.

Yet here we were; in awe because witnessing the site and the results of an event like this eruption easily breaks through to anyone’s sense of human vulnerability. It injects in you a healthy dose of humility.

To truly understand your world you must experience that world in person. That’s why I strongly suggest that you, too, hit the road and experience your world; perhaps for the first time.

You just might discover what the word “awe” really means.

Author's Bio: 

Hugh DeBurgh, The Passionate Warrior, has dedicated his life to the achievement of the ultimate family lifestyle. You can find him writing about Creative Family Lifestyle Design over at his blog, The Way of the Passionate Warrior. Currently he is on the second leg of a worldwide travel adventure with his wife and four young children. His blog is at .